CONSULATE GENERAL OF SWITZERLAND IN HONG KONG
|A condensed press review prepared
the Consulate General of Switzerland in Hong Kong
"Hong Kong is an extremely important window and reference point
for the quick development of all the luxury brands in China. No
one could have imagined China to be what it is today. But HK will
last for many years in the future ... “this is where the money
is." (Giorgio Armani)
No knives out for Tsang: Reports of an anti-Donald Tsang
campaign in Beijing were put to rest when the HK chief executive
paid a round of whirlwind visits to senior leaders. Not only was
Tsang well received, most leaders were singing his praises and making
pledges of support by the time he left. Tsang said that intelligent
people could differentiate between truth and rumours.
No mainland city can take HK's place: No mainland city could
take HK's place in the country's development, Beijing's top representative
in the city said. Speaking at a meeting of HK delegates to the National
People's Congress, Gao Siren, director of the central government's
liaison office in HK, said the 11th five-year plan reiterated the
central government's staunch support for HK's economic development.
HK deputies call for Basic Law's review: HK deputies to the
National People's Congress have for the first time urged the NPC
Standing Committee to review and amend the Basic Law. Victor Sit
first proposed the motion when the committee's deputy secretary-general,
Qiao Xiaoyang, met HK NPC and CPPCC delegates to hear their views.
"Besides interpretation, the amendment of the Basic Law will
be another practical way to stop current political conflicts,"
said Professor Sit. He added that many articles in HK's mini-constitution
were in conflict with "current situations".
Economic pointer to HK democracy: The improvement in HK's
economy and living standards will eventually lead to a democratic
political system in the SAR, Premier Wen Jiabao said. Speaking at
the end of the annual session of the National People's Congress
in Beijing, Wen said that nearly nine years after HK's return to
the motherland, the capitalist and legal systems remain unchanged
and that the freedom and rights of HK people are guaranteed.
Beijing boosts Tsang's popularity: Chief Executive Donald
Tsang's popularity has risen to a four-month high, apparently thanks
to the show of support from central government leaders responding
to a rumoured anti-Tsang campaign waged by the pro-Beijing camp.
Beijing will not see us as enemy, says Civic Party: The Civic
Party, which was officially launched, has voiced confidence that
Beijing will not treat it as an enemy. Members vowed to foster healthy
dialogue with the central authorities while working with different
sectors to fight for democracy and social justice in HK. Comprising
lawmakers of the Article 45 Concern Group, the party was launched
with legislator Audrey Eu named as leader.
Li pledges his support for Tsang's re-election: Li Ka-shing,
HK's most powerful and richest businessman, has pledged his support
for Chief Executive Donald Tsang to seek re-election next year,
and praised Tsang as an outstanding leader in tackling complicated
Democracy talks stall on capitalism: A discussion by members
of a high-level government think-tank on a road map or timeline
for full democracy turned into a debate on whether democracy would
harm the city's capitalist way of life. Pro-democracy panellists
accused the government of finding an excuse to hold back the universal
suffrage promised in the Basic Law. But those from the business
sector and the leftist camp argued that adopting universal suffrage
hastily could turn HK into a welfare state because elected politicians
would need to please voters with handouts.
Closer integration on way for: Premier Wen Jiabao's latest
remarks strongly suggest that Beijing will continue to boost economic
integration between the mainland and HK. Now it's up to the SAR
government to take advantage of that, especially in negotiations
over the next phase of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement
which is largely focused on services-related trades. At his annual
press conference after the closing of the annual session of the
NPC Tuesday, Wen was effusive about HK, praising its "irreplaceable"
contributions to the mainland's economic reforms and describing
it as "the freest and most open economy in the world."
Zen verdict sidestepped: The foreign minister gave an oblique
answer when asked whether Joseph Zen's elevation to cardinal would
affect Sino-Vatican relations. Li Zhaoxing replied that the central
government was pleased to see achievements by people in HK. However,
he warned the Vatican against interfering in China's internal affairs,
saying the Holy See must sever ties with Taiwan.
Change mind-set, Zen urges Beijing: Newly appointed Cardinal
Joseph Zen has wasted no time wading deep into the sensitive issues
of religious freedom and Taiwanese sovereignty, using the first
full day after his return to Hong Kong to call on Beijing to change
its attitude towards the Vatican. Zen said the central government
will have to guarantee real religious freedom before the Vatican
will consider transferring its diplomatic recognition from Taipei
Uncertainty over cost, timetable of new bridge: A difference
has emerged over the cost and timetable for a bridge linking HK
with Macau and Zhuhai. The Guangdong authorities had not set a timetable
and price tag for the project, the province's executive vice-governor
Tang Bingquan said. His remarks marked an apparent deviation from
those of Guangdong Development and Reform Commission director-general
Chen Shanru, who said that the provincial authorities were hoping
to begin work on the bridge next year.
Guangzhou urges HK, Macau to 'join hands': Guangzhou party
Chief Lin Shusen has invited HK and Macau to get on board and help
it to promote growth over the next five years. "There is no
progress without competition. Competition is good for all three
areas. We should join hands to compete globally".
We've much to learn from HK, says Shenzhen mayor: Shenzhen
mayor Xu Zongheng has hailed HK as "unique and irreplaceable"
and pledged his government would continue to play second fiddle
to the special administrative region. Speaking at the close of the
Shenzhen People's Congress, the mayor said no mainland city could
compete with HK in terms of economic sophistication, government
efficiency, openness and the rule of law. He said Shenzhen's goal
to become an international hi-tech, logistics and regional financial
centre was not in conflict with HK's interests as the two sides
could complement each other.
Legal affairs and human rights
UN rights body “too far away to understand HK”:
The UN human rights watchdog may not fully understand the situation
in HK because it is situated overseas, the home affairs minister
said. Patrick Ho made the remark in response to lawmakers' criticism
of the government's reservations about introducing universal suffrage
and other recommendations made by the UN Human Rights Committee
over the years.
Activists will urge UN to push for full democracy: Human
rights activists will urge the UN to press the HK government to
introduce full democracy at a hearing of the international body's
human rights commission this month. They say they will also call
on the commission to ask Beijing to stop interfering in HK affairs
by means of "reinterpretation of the Basic Law".
HK poll system breaches UN treaty: The United Nations Human
Rights Committee said HK's electoral arrangements breach an international
rights treaty, and called its reservations to a treaty clause calling
for universal and equal suffrage a "dead letter". This
is the second time committee members have struck down the government's
argument that the paragraph on universal suffrage in article 25
of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights does
not apply to the city. However, it is the first time they have reached
the judgment in relation to the post-handover electoral arrangements,
including those for functional constituencies and the chief executive.
Falun Gong documents 'too sensitive': Documents concerning
how four Falun Gong practitioners were placed on a Department of
Immigration watch list are too sensitive for open court, Chief Secretary
Rafael Hui Si-yan has decreed. Mr Hui said the release of the documents
covered by a court order issued by Mr Justice Michael Hartmann,
who is hearing a judicial review brought by the four practitioners
in the Court of First Instance, was not in the public interest.
Report slams SAR on human rights: The United States Department
of State has blasted the HK government for failing to uphold the
civil liberties of its seven million people in its annual human
rights report. The report generally approves of HK's political system,
but pointed to four prominent breaches of human rights. "The
following human rights problems were reported: limitations on residents'
ability to change their government and limitations on the power
of the legislature to affect government policies," reads the
Steady home price rises tipped: In contrast to last year's
bumpy ride, property prices will rise steadily this year, supported
by continuing economic growth and increasing numbers of new families,
industry figures predict.
Tang: New tax vital to fiscal health: Financial Secretary
Henry Tang showed the courage of his convictions when he took his
Goods and Services Tax message to one place he was most likely to
find the strongest objection. Speaking at a luncheon hosted by the
HK General Chamber of Commerce, Tang said there is a clear need
to introduce new revenue sources like the GST so as to install a
stable component into the SAR government's less-than-healthy fiscal
Wen in rare focus on SAR: HK will maintain its position as
China's international centre of finance and trade after Beijing
referred to the city's development in its five-year plan for the
first time in 53 years. Beijing will support HK's efforts in developing
finance, shipping, trade and tourism, while cooperating with it
on infrastructure, resources and environmental protection, said
Premier Wen Jiabao.
Talk of Shanghai crowd-pleasing eases hub fears: There are
signs the central government may step up coordination and see to
it that HK's status as an international hub in finance, trade and
shipping will not be shaken as rivalry from other key mainland cities,
especially Shanghai, intensifies. Beijing "used to talk about
turning Shanghai into an international hub for finance, trade and
shipping" some time ago, said Wu Bangguo, China's No 2 leader.
"But such talk was propaganda aimed at pleasing the mainland
audience," added Wu, chairman of the National People's Congress'
HK's got it all, says China-wide survey of competitiveness:
HK is clearly China's most competitive city, according to an official
mainland think-tank. But the city shouldn't rest on its laurels
as it also suffers relatively low economic growth and has a corporate
culture that is not conducive to technological innovation, an academic
involved in the study says. In its annual report on urban competitiveness
for 2005, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences put HK at the top
of its list of 200 cities. "Although mainland cities such as
Shanghai and Beijing are maintaining a rapid pace of development,
it will be some time before they can overtake HK," said the
academy, which considered such factors as the quality of human resources
and companies, as well as regulatory environment.
Tang's budget under attack on two fronts: The financial secretary
has come under fire from across the political spectrum for failing
to strengthen the economy and help the needy in his budget. Lawmakers
accused Mr Tang of spending only $100 million more to help the needy,
while the budget surplus by January had reached $19.6 billion, five
times his estimate of $4.1 billion for the entire financial year.
Others said Mr Tang lacked the vision to boost innovation and competitiveness,
following a warning on Monday by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
in its annual report that the city had a corporate culture not conducive
to technological innovation.
Joseph Yam urges stronger financial role for HK: HK must
strengthen its role as a financial intermediary with the mainland
to avoid being marginalised and maintain its status as an international
financial centre, HK Monetary Authority chief executive Yam warned.
"As the mainland has quickened reform on its financial system,
HK - as a middleman between mainland and overseas funds - could
be marginalised," Mr Yam said at the Pan-Pearl River Delta
Financial Services Forum.
Frederick Ma reveals funds boom: Secretary for Financial
Services and the Treasury Ma expects HK's fund industry to double
its size in five years as more fund houses use the SAR as a platform
for investing in mainland stocks. Ma is very optimistic that high
growth rates can be sustained since overseas investors are committing
more of their savings to the Asian markets, especially China.
Property fears grow: Prolonged interest rate hikes could
further damage the local property market after the latest quarter
percentage point increase by the US Federal Reserve Bank, the HK
Monetary Authority has warned. Matching the United States, HK banks
raised interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point, retaining
the current two-tier system.
Expo industry shows up challenges: Despite recent efforts
by AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE) management to improve its facilities, the
local exhibition sector fears that the industry is still facing
serious challenges, such as a shortage of hotel rooms for trade-fair
participants and visitors. Industry representatives are also worried
that with poor government support, HK's strengths could be matched
by other Asian economies in a rush to expand trade-fair facilities.
Hospital Authority starts surveillance programme: The Hospital
Authority and all 12 private hospitals in HK have been placed on
full alert for bird flu. The authority also announced the launch
of a three-week enhanced surveillance programme. Under the programme,
public hospitals have to report to the authority's e-Flu system
if a patient shows symptoms of bird flu, has been in contact with
birds or recently travelled to an area deemed high-risk.
Finally, a deadline for ban on live chicken sales – 2009:
Live chickens will be banned from HK's wet markets by 2009, more
than 10 years after the idea was first flagged, a senior government
source revealed. The source said the Health, Welfare and Food Bureau
would next month present the Legislative Council with a timetable
to phase out the sale of live chickens, to coincide with the plan
for setting up a central slaughterhouse in the northwest New Territories.
Property sector will be hit by smoking ban, says agency:
Property became the latest industry to claim it would be dealt a
severe blow by the government's proposed smoking ban. An executive
of one of the city's biggest estate agencies said property prices
could plummet as bars and restaurants lost business and closed because
of the ban. But the chief of another big agency disagreed, saying
entertainment venues were facing intense competition from Macau
and the mainland and were using the looming smoking ban as an excuse
to shut down.
Air pollution puts tourism in jeopardy, poll reveals: Environmental
activists said HK's multi-billion dollar tourism industry is at
risk after a survey found half the visitors to the city had complained
of the worsening air pollution.
Pollution link to surge in breathing problems: The number
of elderly people complaining of respiratory problems has risen
six-fold in 12 years, a survey has found, with experts saying pollution
is a significant factor contributing to the rise. A team of respiratory
experts has urged the government to quickly implement a total smoking
ban in HK to improve air quality. They also blamed emissions from
vehicles and power plants as well as pollutants from the Pearl River
Delta for the deteriorating respiratory condition of people in the
SAR climbs the pollution ranks: The bad news - HK is one
of the world's most polluted cities. The not-so-new news - most
of the pollutants are wafting across the border from the mainland.
That is the preliminary verdict of a group of HK Polytechnic University
scientists at the official launch of the university's 10-year air
pollution monitoring partnership program in conjunction with the
United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Grim picture on emission controls: Green groups have warned
a meeting of the Legislative Council environmental affairs panel
that HK's power companies still have a long way to go towards meeting
a 2010 target of reducing air pollutants. Bill Barron, a senior
research fellow with think-tank Civic Exchange, said local power
companies should follow the example of their US counterparts and
establish energy service companies to help educate the public on
the greater use of energy-efficient home appliances. He added that
carbon taxes should be introduced for the use of "dirty"
fuels like coal.
Power exports add to HK pollution: The lucrative business
of exporting electricity to Guangdong is responsible for up to 12
per cent of pollutants in HK, the environment chief revealed. Sarah
Liao also told the Legislative Council that emissions in HK would
drop "immediately" if CLP Power ceases its exports to
Press articles related to Switzerland
Swiss giant signs crucial Huaxin deal (The Standard, 8 March
2006): Holcim, the world's second-largest cement manufacturer,
is set to become the first foreign investor to control a mainland-listed
company as China opens its doors for overseas institutions seeking
to invest in yuan-denominated stocks. Switzerland-based Holcim,
which entered the Chinese market by delivering technical know-how
to mainland counterparts 20 years ago, has signed an agreement to
increase its holding in cement-maker Huaxin Cement to 50.3%.
China movement the new thing in watches (SCMP, 22 March 2006):
(…) Chinas imports of Swiss watches - mostly luxury watches
- have jumped by 78.1% to 351.3 million Swiss francs last year from
197.2 million francs in 2003, while HK's imports grew 24.5 per cent
to 1.77 billion francs last year from 1.42 billion francs in 2003,
according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Together,
HK and the mainland are the world's biggest importer of Swiss watches.
It is estimated that 70 per cent of HK's imported Swiss watches
are sold to mainland Chinese, said Tommy Leung, managing director
of Peace Mark (Holdings), a HK-listed watch company.
Swatch eyes stronger gains after boost from luxury end (SCMP,
24 March 2006): Swiss watchmaker Swatch Group reported a 21%
rise in last year's net profit, slightly below the average expectation,
but the group said it had seen a promising start to this year and
raised its dividend. The maker of Omega, Breguet and Blancpain watches
said a strong performance at its watch and jewellery segment boosted
net profit to 621 million Swiss francs ($3.86 billion) last year.
Like its rivals, Swatch has benefited from a strong rise in demand
for expensive luxury watches.
This is a review of the Hong Kong media and does
not necessarly represent the opinion of the Consulate General
of Switzerland. The Consulate General of Switzerland in
Hong Kong does not bear any responsibility for the topicality,
correctness, completeness or quality of the information
provided. Liability claims regarding damage caused by the
use of any information provided, including any kind of information
which might be incomplete or incorrect, will therefore be
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